The terms are objectively used for identifying a person's object of attraction without attributing a sex assignment or gender identity to the person. This can avoid bias inherent in normative conceptualizations of human sexuality, avoid confusion and offense when describing people in non-western cultures, as well as when describing intersex and transgender people, especially those who are nonbinary or otherwise falling outside the gender binary.
In a discussion of homosexuality, sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld divided men into four groups: paedophiles, who are most attracted to prepubescent youth, ephebophiles, who are most attracted to youths from puberty up to the early twenties; androphiles, who are most attracted to persons between the early twenties and fifty; and gerontophiles, who are most attracted to older men, up to senile old age. According to Karen Franklin, Hirschfeld considered ephebophilia "common and nonpathological, with ephebophiles and androphiles each making up about 45% of the homosexual population."
In his book Androphilia, A Manifesto: Rejecting the Gay Identity, Reclaiming Masculinity, Jack Malebranche uses the term to emphasize masculinity in both the object and the subject of male homosexual desire and to reject the sexual nonconformity that he sees in some segments of the homosexual identity.
In biology, androphilic is sometimes used as a synonym for anthropophilic, describing parasites who have a host preference for humans versus non-human animals. Androphilic is also sometimes used to describe certain proteins and androgen receptors.